Omnichannel marketing is widely recognized as the most effective way of attracting and then retaining customers as advocates of your brand. Omnichannel is all about building strong, long-lasting relationships with customers and creating a relationship that is built to last, across a wide range of marketing channels and potential touchpoints. Omnichannel marketing incorporates both traditional and digital marketing channels as well as other factors such as point-of-sale, in-store advertising and interactions, as well customer experiences online and in-store.
Succeeding with omnichannel marketing requires discipline and an understanding of how to successfully bring together the different channels cohesively. All the channels you choose to connect with your customer must work together to create a unified experience wherever they may come across your brand. Customers browsing online via any device or shopping on premises in a bricks-and-mortar store, anywhere in the country or even world, should have a seamless experience. Some concrete examples of omnichannel marketing include:
Omnichannel marketing refers to using the approach of using multiple channels but creating an integrated overall customer experience. Multichannel marketing refers to interacting with customers and potential customers across various platforms. Whatever channel a customer uses, the experience should be seamless, if omnichannel marketing strategy is being effectively used.
Omnichannel marketing may sound like you need to learn a whole new approach, and this can seem off putting. However, the benefits it brings to the business are significant and often worth the initial time and capital investment. Omnichannel delivers:
Customers have high expectations, and they want to be able to buy things in the way that is most convenient for them. Omnichannel is, therefore, the best choice, as you can offer multiple customers their preferred way of purchase. Research by Mgage found businesses with a consistent cross-channel marketing approach have a 13% annual improvement on customer retention levels.
Offering a seamless experience across multiple channels gives customers a sense of comfort and security. They know what they’re going to get with your brand, and this keeps them satisfied. Disconnected brands with mismatched channels can’t offer the same level of satisfaction. Omnichannel marketing also means being responsive and reactive, and as Google found 64% of customers expect to receive real-time customer support,regardless of channel choice, this approach is what is in demand.
A study by The Harvard Business Review found omnichannel customers to be 30% more valuable than others. It is also important to keep in mind the true value of retained customers, as while they may only represent 8% of a total customer base, they create 40% of its revenue. Your turnover will benefit from a well-implemented omnichannel marketing approach.
The path to purchase can begin and end anywhere, at any time and on any device. Marketers need to react to this. Google research suggests 90% of multiple device users switch between an average of three per day to complete any given task, so making this easy for them is the job of the brands themselves. Brands want to lead their customers in their chosen direction and to do this, omnichannel makes the most sense.
Creating your omnichannel marketing strategy requires a number of key elements:
Content still has huge value to your business, but out of context, its value significantly falls. Understanding how, when and what customers do with your content is integral to ensuring you’re positioning it in the correct context for the highest levels of response and better leads. Omnichannel marketing strategies should incorporate contextual content in a way which convinces customers to spend more. You should be offering suggestions and recommendations based browsing history, searches and abandoned carts. Recognizing what your customers want when and giving it to them is highly effective.
For example, when RadioShack added a mobile-optimized store locator featuring GPS and click-to-call, they estimated between 40% and 60% then visited in-store, with 85% of these then going on to make a purchase. This is just one example that shows the importance of context, and delivering the right message at the right time.
Knowing your customers intimately is the vital component of successful omnichannel marketing. You have to understand who they are, what they want and where they’re coming from. You should understand their goals and the challenges they face, and how your brand can play a role in overcoming said challenges. To further enhance customer knowledge, you can:
For a successful omnichannel marketing strategy, you need to understand the most valuable channels for your target audience.
A siloed organizational structure is often the main barrier to omnichannel implementation and success. Sales, marketing, PR, product development and customer service must work in coordination and seamlessly, if the customer journey is going to be equally as seamless. Restructuring traditional roles and departments has become common in many large organizations, so the siloed approach simply isn’t possible. For example, customer engagement departments could incorporate product development, marketing, content, social and PR, rather than keeping these teams separate. It helps staff understand their roles are interlinked and makes the omnichannel experience something you live and practice, as well as preach.
When communication is swift and teams are able to operate fluidly, strategies are much more agile and customer-centered.
The sophisticated and ever-evolving nature of marketing technology provides marketers with the tools to create highly effective strategies, if used properly and in the right combination. The MarTech landscape can be confusing, even for specialists, and it can take some trial and error to bring together the right selection of tools to support your omnichannel strategy.
Your combination of marketing technology and tools is known as your MarTech Stack and every organization will find a combination that works for them. There is considerable research into what makes the perfect MarTech Stack and according to Aberdeen Strategy & Research, the most frequently used tools include the following:
Core to any successful MarTech Stack is your choice of CRM. Customer relationship management software allows you to record, in as much detail as you like, every buyer’s journey from before-purchase to customer. Without CRM, it’s impossible to harness the customer data you need to drive your marketing strategy.
Hand-in-hand with your CRM software comes your choice of data visualization and analytics tools. These are like the brain behind the data and provide the analysis you need to make the right decisions when planning future campaigns. The CMO Council report that an organization’s relationship with data has a direct impact on its understanding of user behavior, so the right tools to handle your data matter.
Once your CRM and data analysis tools are in place and work well together, your other tools can be selected to work effectively in conjunction with these key players.
Pinching and zooming are not convenient, especially when people are browsing on the go and may even be using one hand. Customers accessing your brand’s content across a wide range of devices need to have reliable access whatever their screen size. Responsive web design is no longer an optional concept, it’s integral to any business that wants to succeed in an omnichannel world. We all know how it feels when you hit a non-responsive website on your cell - you instantly switch off. You don’t want that to be happening to your brand, so ensure all your seamlessly connected channels genuinely work on all the devices your customer could be using.Pinching and zooming are not convenient, especially when people are browsing on the go and may even be using one hand. Customers accessing your brand’s content across a wide range of devices need to have reliable access whatever their screen size. Responsive web design is no longer an optional concept, it’s integral to any business that wants to succeed in an omnichannel world. We all know how it feels when you hit a non-responsive website on your cell - you instantly switch off. You don’t want that to be happening to your brand, so ensure all your seamlessly connected channels genuinely work on all the devices your customer could be using.
Organization and consistency across digital channels is important when building this kind of strategy but when you have a physical store too, you can make even more of your omnichannel approach. The seamless shopping experience can go beyond screens and be present in real-time, too. Maintaining consistency across brand and messaging in-store will resonate with customers already using your digital platforms.
Some brands simply match up their identity and design in-store and online, whereas others go even further and integrate technology to push their omnichannel approach to the limit. Outdoor lifestyle and equipment store REI capitalized on data showing 75% of their customers visited their website or app to browse before buying. They took this information and armed their sales associates with mobile devices to help guide customers in-store and answer any questions they may have. Free in-store Wi-Fi further enhanced this offering and it’s a great example of omnichannel done to perfection.
Despite providing many reasons why omnichannel marketing is a successful way of attracting and retaining customers, it is possible to see why some may think the investment needed is extreme. The effort it takes to do omnichannel well is extensive, but research consistently shows that the return is more than worth what you put in.
A study from IDC in 2005 found users who shop across different channels have a 30% higher lifetime value to a brand than those that do not. Further research in the Harvard Business Review studied 46,000 shoppers and their behavior, and found only positives from omnichannel approaches. This included those using multiple channels spending an average of 4% more in each shopping occasion in the physical store and 10% more online than those using just one single channel. The evidence speaks for itself when it comes to omnichannel; it’s an approach that works. More than this, it’s an approach that satisfies the customers’ needs and improves their overall experience, which should be a key aim of all marketing strategies.
Unlike previous marketing approaches, omnichannel thrives on change and adaptability. As new channels for communication and marketing are launched, an omnichannel strategy can simply be expanded to absorb and implement actions to work them into the existing plan.
While your customers may not even know what omnichannel means, they probably already expect it from you. One negative review or experience can significantly impact your brand, but with all bases covered and a seamlessly planned and high-quality experience across all channels, the chance of this occurring is much lower.
Every market is crowded out with different options, so when customers choose your business, they have the right to expect a simple and even enjoyable experience. Well-executed omnichannel marketing is present at every stage of the customer’s journey, and even before they become a customer. It delivers better results with high customer retention and increased customer lifetime value, too.
Succeeding with omnichannel doesn’t have to be a challenge. You simply need to be prepared to change and committed to delivering a high quality, connected experience across every customer platform you use.